Michael search rescue: FEMA right now.
Leaders in our nation’s capital say they’re just beginning to understand Hurricane Michael’s devastation.
“Today is a big day for us when it comes to truly helping people and prevent further loss of life,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long Thursday morning.
The head of country’s disaster recovery agency says the federal government is just starting to get a big picture of the damage, one day after Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida panhandle.
“With FEMA right now, our focus is search and rescue, getting access to the areas that have been hardest hit,” said Long.
Long says, then, the mission shifts to re-opening roads, getting those who lost their homes food and shelter, and restoring a heavily damaged power grid.
“It’s not stuff that you just put back together over night, and it’s unrealistic for people to think it’s going to happen in the next day or two,” he explained.
Before the storm, FEMA estimated 1.5 million people could lose power. In reality, about 500,000 did.
“That is some good news, but for the half-million people that don’t have power, we understand the frustration, we’re doing everything we can, but it could be multiple weeks in some of those areas,” he said.
For some with medical devices, getting power back could be a matter of life and death. The federal government is also declaring a health emergency and says it is mobilizing workers, cutting medicare red tape, and finding folks care options when hospital can’t provide it.
“State and local governments have stayed on top of moving patients out of hospitals, that have been damaged, and we’ll continue to push forward, and right now, we don’t have an idea of how long those hospitals are out of commission,” said Long.
Nearly 8,000 people took shelter from the storm in 100 Red Cross Shelters in Florida and Alabama. Now, the charity is prepping cots and food supplies – knowing many won’t have a place to call home for some time.